When James Cameron directed his first 3D film Terminator 2: 3D about 10 years ago, he spent 60 million US dollars to painfully construct the film, made it the most expensive frame-for-frame production ever. Digital 3D rendering technologies, no matter pre-rendered or realtime generated, are used extensively in production process ("pipeline") of many modern live action films, feature films, advertisement and video games.
However for digital content production like film filled with special effects or AAA video game production, the real challenge lies on not only computer graphics algorithms but also the process to apply these computer generated graphics to compose final visual images. These processes involves professionals from visual artist, designer, software engineers as well as a new type of profession call "technical designer" (TD) or "technical artist" (TA). A technical designer or technical artist is described as "the programmer with soul of visual artist". TD is always the key professional in production pipeline to bring the final visual results on big screen or game console as well as push visual technology to another never-seen-before level.
We will first take deep down look at modern film / AAA video game production pipeline and then introduce the core value and professional skill of technical design process. Our discussion will then conclude at what was missing in current education system and how can we catch up professional skills required to compete with mainstream digital content production like Hollywood films and AAA video game production - not just get pity outsourcing laboring works from major productions.
Charles Shih-I Yeh is co-fonder of InterGrafx, Inc., a formally US-based 3D platform technology provider for post-PC devices and now have offices in Vancouver, Taipei, BeiJing and TenJing. He resides in Vancouver, Canada - a city name "Hollywood North" filled with many film studios, movie special effects companies, animation studios and hundreds of video game studios. He worked as 3D software programmer for video game studios and film special effects companies, also teaching in local 3D computer graphics training schools. He currently works as C.T.O. of InterGrafx to oversee development of embedded 3D UI platform which has already licensed by many major Digital TV manufactures from Asia and Europe, jointly developed by InterGrafx Taiwan team.